Topic: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"  (Read 15449 times)

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Offline James Walker

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"The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« on: December 31, 2007, 04:51 PM »
Just thought I'd share a few "work in progress" photos of the snare drum shell I'm working on.  The shell is a 6.5x14" figured ash stave (1/2" thick) from Joshua Tree Percussion.  This is the one I mentioned in another thread a few weeks back - the one where a potential buyer on eBay asked the seller if he could cut four 2" vents in the shell...ugh.

The exterior finish is TransTint "bordeaux" aniline dye, with gloss polyurethane on top.  The interior is a black aniline dye, with a few coats of danish oil to seal the wood.  The edges show the natural color, again sealed with danish oil.




The edges are 45 degrees, with a slight 45-degree countercut on the outside.  After cutting the edges, and now that I see what the wood looks like "natural" with an oil finish, I'm trying to decide whether I regret dyeing the shell.  Part of me loves the way the figuring shows, but part of me loves the burgundy color.  Even though the figuring doesn't show as much through the dye, there's still a lot of visual interest present in the wood.  (The black dye would've been a nice exterior finish as well, IMO.)

I ordered the hardware last week - chrome tube lugs and 2.3mm hoops.  I'm leaning towards an Ayotte "rack and pinion" strainer - either that, or an Ayotte-style "Stealth" strainer.

More pix to follow when the hardware arrives, and I complete the layout/drilling/beds/assembly.
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Offline Louis Russell

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2007, 05:09 PM »
"The last snare drum I'm going to build"

James, James, James!  This is New Year's eve, not April Fool's Day.   ;D
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Offline Todd Norris

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2007, 09:47 PM »
Wow, gorgeous shell!  I can't wait to see the finished product.  JTP sure builds nice shells! 

And I'm with Louis on this.  There's no way this will be your last snare build! 

Offline VickHick

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2008, 05:01 AM »
That shell is Beautiful !!  I think you made the right move with the outside of the shell.  It is going to make a great looking drum that will mix amd match with just about any kit.  Are you going with an 8 or a 10 lug ?  That dark dye does look good ,but no way I would have covered up that finely figured wood with it.  Also what kinda sound difference do you get between a stave shell like that and a segemented shell such as a Global shell.  I followed your advice several months ago and purchased a Global shell snare drum and will never go back to a ply shell snare.  So I'm just curious about the stave shell.  After all you are the Snare Drum Guru !!!  And all ur advice has been spot on !!   

Offline James Walker

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2008, 11:36 AM »
Thanks, guys.  :)

Vick, this is going to be a ten-lug snare drum.  The common practice seems to be to coordinate the number of lugs with the number of staves used to build the shell, and there are twenty staves in this shell.  (I'm not sure why that's the common practice - the glues that are used on these shells are stronger than the wood itself, so it's no sin to drill on a joint.)  All things being equal, I don't really have a preference between eight and ten (and six!) lug snare drums.  Variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes.  ;)

In terms of the sound, judging from the stave shells I've used in the past, I tend to categorize shells into two columns:  "plywood" and "not plywood."  The differences between stave vs. segment vs. steambent are minimal, to my ears, compared to the differences between any of those three and a plywood shell.  I haven't forsaken plywood shells - I've got a couple of Keller builds that flat out kill, in their own way - but I do tend to like non-plywood shells better.  The tone sounds fuller to my ears, especially when using lighter sticks.

There are two reasons why I dyed the interior black.  First, I like the look.  Second, since Tim at JTPco didn't have any scraps of the figured ash available (this is a shell he built a while ago, not recently), I used the interior surface to test a few colors.  I gave serious consideration to a light blue - almost turquoise - dye, but the red won out (I gave my wife the final call on this one.) 

As to the "last snare drum," that's basically true, believe it or not.  I don't build to sell (maybe if someone had bought that tiger maple snare I've posted here a few times, I'd think differently), and I'm having a heck of a time coming up with new twists on snare drums to try and justify adding another one to my collection.

Now that I think about it, tho, I may "grandfather" in one or two snare drum projects.  I've got a nice 6x12 Keller shell down in my workshop, waiting for hardware and edges/beds, and I've also got the ring chassis and snare mechanism for a Pearl "free floater," which has been sitting unused for a few years.  I've got a few non-snare-drum projects in the pipeline, however.  I want to build a compact kit for pit orchestra work (I've got the hardware; I just need the shells), and I've got five or six 6" counterhoops that I picked up on eBay a few years back - so it's possible that a set of octobans is in my future as well.  (You know...for all those King Crimson tunes I get to play on gigs...)   ::)
"I played with Holdsworth, Fripp, and Belew...I wish we drummers could play that differently. Drummers are starting to homogenize into the same guy, which frightens me." - Bill Bruford

Offline eardrum

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2008, 04:15 PM »
James,
That is a sweet looking shell.  Ash is a fav of mine (visually at least - I've never played an ash drum).  Looking forward to the final product pics.

Offline James Walker

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2008, 05:29 PM »
The hardware finally arrived today, and after a quick trip to the hardware store for some extra-long mounting screws, I finally got her put together.  I need to take some better pictures while the sun is up (my cheap digital camera and its cheap flash make nighttime pictures look like hostage videos), but here's the finished product:



"I played with Holdsworth, Fripp, and Belew...I wish we drummers could play that differently. Drummers are starting to homogenize into the same guy, which frightens me." - Bill Bruford

Offline Louis Russell

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2008, 06:08 PM »
Hostage video or not, it looks good all dressed up. 
No one will believe it's the "Blues" if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be an old person, and you slept in it last night!

Offline NY Frank

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2008, 07:49 PM »
Very, very beautiful, as is always the case with anything you build, James.

Treating us to soundclips soon?
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Offline VickHick

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2008, 09:45 PM »
Oh Yeah that is one more good looking drum !!!  The important question is. How does she sound ? Say, compared to a 6.5 x 14 mapel.  What kinda heads are you going to run on it and what kinda snare wires are you using ?  Is it going to work best with heads medium tight and snares loose ?  Are or you still working on all that ?  Sometime this year I am planning on getting me another snare drum.  I have a African Mahagony Global Snare and I would like to get another wooden snare.  Do you have any suggestions ?   I'm pretty sure it's going to end up being another Global snare. Just not sure of the wood.  Any suggestions ?  

Offline James Walker

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2008, 12:52 AM »
Thanks, guys.  I'm very happy with the way this drum has turned out.

I need to live with it for a few more days before I draw any conclusions about its sound.  Right now, I'm running a very basic head setup on it - Evans G1 on top, and a 300-weight snare side head.  I've found that a really basic setup is a good way to test a drum I've built - if I can't get it sounding good with a single-ply coated batter head, then there's something wrong with the drum.

So far, so good, tho, based upon the half-hour or so that I spent playing it this evening.  At first blush, the one thing I noticed is that even at a relatively high head tension (higher than I usually have my snare drums, at least), the drum still retains a lot of low end to its sound.  How much of that can be attributed to the ash, I can't say.

Sometime this year I am planning on getting me another snare drum...I'm pretty sure it's going to end up being another Global snare. Just not sure of the wood.  Any suggestions ?  

Well, the best thing would be to discuss your options with Matt at Global - he obviously has more experience with a wider variety of woods than I do.  I will say, however, that my monkeypod segment from Global is my favorite wood snare drum - it seems to have the strongest "ooh factor" of any of my wood snare drums.  There's just something special about its sound, and it's also really pretty to boot.



I don't know how monkeypod compares with the mahogany that Matt uses, tho.  He might suggest something that offers a bit more contrast, maybe something harder or denser. 
"I played with Holdsworth, Fripp, and Belew...I wish we drummers could play that differently. Drummers are starting to homogenize into the same guy, which frightens me." - Bill Bruford

Offline Stewart Manley

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2008, 04:30 AM »
Yet another beautiful drum, James.

"Last snare I'll build," indeed. Persuaded a pharma company to develop a patch impregnated with the smell of new snare, have you?

 ;)

Offline NY Frank

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2008, 09:27 AM »
I will say, however, that my monkeypod segment from Global is my favorite wood snare drum - it seems to have the strongest "ooh factor" of any of my wood snare drums.  There's just something special about its sound, and it's also really pretty to boot.


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Offline Chip Donaho

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2008, 01:20 PM »
WOW, that monkeypod snare would look great with your set. And if it sounds as good as you say it does, that would be a better fit than the red and purple together. I'm surprized you didn't make that snare purple to match the set. Or even black or a nice wood color. The red snare is still a great looking drum.  8) 
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Offline James Walker

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2008, 02:12 PM »
WOW, that monkeypod snare would look great with your set.

Way ahead of you, bro...  ;)



Quote
I'm surprized you didn't make that snare purple to match the set. Or even black or a nice wood color. The red snare is still a great looking drum.  8) 

Thanks.  No more purple - not unless I build a matching 20" BD for the kit.  Beyond that, I'm all purpled out.  I think that phase - once aptly described by Mr. Whitten as my "Artist Formerly Known As James" phase ;D - has run its course.

These show the color a bit more accurately - same lousy camera, but Mother Nature's lighting helps:





I'm 99% sure that the next kit I build will have black shells, and this newest snare drum should look fantastic with a black kit.
"I played with Holdsworth, Fripp, and Belew...I wish we drummers could play that differently. Drummers are starting to homogenize into the same guy, which frightens me." - Bill Bruford

Paicey

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2008, 02:24 PM »
THAT freakin drum is gorgeous!. Makes ya kinda horny to take it for a spin. Beautiful drum! James.......beautiful!. I also dig violet kits!.

Offline NY Frank

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2008, 05:27 PM »
Maybe one of your 2008 Resolutions should be:

Opening up
JW Custom Snares

 :)
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Offline Todd Norris

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2008, 09:41 PM »
Looks great James!  Can't wait to hear sound files... 

Chip, he made a 15" snare to match that kit.  It's killer...

James, how about a quicky review of those Fat Cat wires? 

Offline Chip Donaho

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2008, 09:54 PM »
I've got a red DW set that snare would look great with....   ;D
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Offline James Walker

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Re: "The last snare drum I'm going to build"
« Reply #19 on: January 07, 2008, 01:34 PM »
Chip, he made a 15" snare to match that kit.  It's killer...

16, actually.  My Brobdingnagian snare drum.

Quote
James, how about a quicky review of those Fat Cat wires? 

They have a good overall sound - somewhere between 24-strand snares and 42-stranders, given how wide the spacing is.  The adjustable center section of strands is a nice touch, and it does allow for some fine-tuning of the snare response, but by itself it's not the reason to buy a set.  I'd use them even if the center section didn't have its own fine adjustment screw.

FWIW, I've now got a set of steel DynamicX snares on this drum.

Maybe one of your 2008 Resolutions should be:

Opening up
JW Custom Snares

Start a drum company?  Nah.  It'd be simpler and easier just to take all of the money out of my savings account, pile the cash in my driveway, and set it on fire.  Same results, without the stress and aggravation.  ;)
"I played with Holdsworth, Fripp, and Belew...I wish we drummers could play that differently. Drummers are starting to homogenize into the same guy, which frightens me." - Bill Bruford

 

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